2012 NFL Final Mock Draft – Round 1

As the NFL Draft approaches, a lot of things come into focus and the crystal ball becomes more clear.  The NFL Combine, pro days, and individual workouts have given us a better idea of the expected talent and impact of these young rookies and how teams will rank them.  As teams invite players for private workouts we get a better idea of who teams might have interest in.  The stock of some players continues to rise while others continue to fall as we approach Draft Night.  And of course a large factor in any mock draft, the order has been finalized and compensatory picks have been awarded.

Peyton Manning, Matt Flynn, Mario Williams, Vincent Jackson, Carl Nicks, and the other high profile free agents have signed which has allowed a number of teams to address needs they otherwise would have in the draft.  In some cases the signing of one or two players has entirely transformed a team’s draft priorities (As is the case with the Broncos, Bills, and Buccaneers).

The top 20 picks of this final mock draft are pretty consistent with what we saw in my previous post.   Throughout this week leading up to the draft I will be publishing who I believe will be the first 100 picks with Round 1 coming today, Round 2 coming Monday, and Round 3 and the first five picks of the fourth round coming on Wednesday. You will notice that this time around I have included my previous pick and for the first round, I have also included other possible picks the team might take at their given position.

NOTE: In a lot of cases where I list a position as an area of need it may just be depth and not a starter.  This is very true of positions like quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and line positions for a number of teams.

As always, feedback is much appreciated so please comment below or tweet us @can_of_corn

PREVIOUS PICK: Andrew Luck, QB – Stanford

UPDATE: As I type this, multiple sources are reporting that the Indianapolis Colts have informed Andrew Luck he will be the #1 overall pick

This has been my #1 overall draft pick for the past year (regardless of team)  and there is nothing I have seen yet to make me feel otherwise.   He is an intelligent young quarterback with a strong arm and as we saw in his pro day, underrated athleticism.  He is a mobile quarterback who can extend plays and a natural-born leader.  He is ready to run a pro-style offense now and has the pro-typical size that NFL execs and coaches love.  In college he was a winner, he was prolific, and more importantly, he was an efficient quarterback throwing 37 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions in his senior campaign.  I stated early last season that teams should only consider doing three things with the first overall pick – draft Andrew Luck, draft Andrew Luck and trade him (or your current quarterback depending on the team), or trade the pick to somebody who will draft Andrew Luck.

If I were to rank Andrew Luck against other quarterback prospects of the last 30 years he would rank in the top 3 alongside John Elway and Peyton Manning.  One thing all three will soon have in common is they were drafted first overall by the Indianapolis Colts – talk about your incredibly lucky franchises.

Other Possibilities: None

PREVIOUS PICK: Robert Griffin III, QB – Baylor

The Washington Redskins came out and promised their fans that this would be the year that they addressed their quarterback situation.  It was clear last season that John Beck and Rex Grossman were not the answer.  Knowing that they were unlikely to be players in the Peyton Manning sweepstakes, the Redskins pulled the trigger and swapped first round picks with the St. Louis Rams and sent St. Louis their 2012 2nd round pick, their 2013 first round pick, and their 2014 first round pick.   The only other quarterback in the draft beyond Andrew Luck that might be considered worthy of that type of an investment is RGIII.

I believe that Robert Griffin’s stock has been helped by the success of Cam Newton with the Panthers this past year but there is no denying that last season RGIII was the consensus best player in all of college football.   Griffin can throw the deep ball and throws it with accuracy.  He has blazing speed (ran a 4.4 40 at the combine) but is definitely a throw-first type quarterback.   He fits Shanahan’s offense and he’s a high character guy who has the intangibles you want in the future leader of your franchise.

Other Possibilities: None

PREVIOUS PICK: Matt Kalil, OT – USC

With it being presumed that Luck and RG3 go 1 and 2, the Vikings are essentially on the clock.  I have been very high on Matt Kalil from the start and I believe that he is in the same class as Cleveland’s Joe Thomas and Miami’s Jake Long as far as offensive line prospects go.   The Vikings shocked everyone last year when in the quarterback frenzy they selected Florida State’s Christian Ponder with the 12th overall pick setting up the most intriguing young quarterback competition in the NFL between Ponder and Joe Webb. Presuming that Ponder will be the starter, the Vikings must protect their investment and as Matt Kalil told the Vikings, if they were to select him they, “won’t have to worry about finding a left tackle for the next decade.”  I could not agree more.

How good  is Matt Kalil? He is the reason that Dallas’s Tyron Smith (who just had a great rookie year) played on the right side at USC.  He is the most athletic offensive line prospect I’ve seen in a long time and has quick feet and great strength that will make him an elite pass blocker.   The great thing about Matt Kalil is that with this one draft pick the Viking’s all of a sudden take an abysmal offensive line from 2011 and make it one of their strengths.  The Kalil pick allows them to move Charlie Johnson from tackle to guard, Loadholt is solid at right tackle, and the Vikings have added depth in free agency to compete with second year player Brandon Fusco.   This line could be elite with Matt Kalil next to center John Sullivan (quietly one of the best centers in the NFC last year).  Imagine how effective the three headed monster of Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhart, and Percy Harvin could be at running the ball if the Vikings offensive line wasn’t awful?

This is definitely the pick the Vikings make.  Any team that does not need a quarterback and passes on Matt Kalil is making a HUGE mistake.  He is the 2nd best player (after Luck) available in this draft.

Other Possibilities:
1. The Vikings trade the pick; the Vikings have been sending out flyers about interest in other players which I believe is a diversion to get a team who wants Trent Richardson, Matt Kalil, or Ryan Tannehill to move up.  Ultimately I believe Minnesota wants to move down within the top 10-12 picks.

2. The Vikings give their secondary a huge boost by selecting LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne

3. The Vikings give Christian Ponder another weapon by selecting WR Justin Blackmon

PREVIOUS PICK: Morris Claiborne, CB – LSU

Trent Richardson is the best running back prospect since Adrian Peterson in my opinion.  He is an intelligent player and a very complete running back who can be a threat in the running and passing games.  A few months ago I believed that Richardson could slip to the middle of the first round because the pass-happy tendencies that teams are leaning towards combined with the success of running backs such as Ray Rice, Maurice Jones-Drew, Arian Foster, Matt Forte, and Fred Jackson has greatly devalued the running back position.  Trent Richardson is leaps and bounds ahead of any other running back in this draft and so this devaluation won’t affect him one bit and I’d be shocked if he fell past the 6th overall pick.  If he did fall past the Rams, there is a chance he could fall all the way to the Bengals as I originally projected.

Richardson is a talented running back with the vision, speed, and strength to come into the league and be a top five running back in the league immediately if he’s used correctly.  The Browns need some help on the offensive side of the ball and since Holmgren won’t find a quarterback worth building around here and he does not believe in using early picks on wide receivers, he will take Richardson.  While there are league-wide concerns about his knee injury, the Browns were one of the teams that passed on Adrian Peterson due to injury concerns in 2007 and likely won’t make that same mistake again.

Other Possibilities:
1. If Mike Holmgren decides that Ryan Tannehill could be his quarterback of the future he will not hesitate to select him here and may even swap picks with the Vikings before someone else can move up.

2. The Browns could take Morris Claiborne here and pair him with Joe Haden giving them the best young CB tandem in the NFL.

3. The Browns could trade down with a team interested in Ryan Tannehill (Dolphins, Chiefs, or Eagles) or Trent Richardson.

PREVIOUS PICK: Trent Richardson, RB – Alabama

In spite of the Eric Wright signing, the Buccaneers still have a glaring need at the cornerback position.   The Buccaneers need to find an heir to Ronde Barber who is only getting older and someone to take the place of Aqib Talib (off-field issues).  When you play Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, and Cam Newton twice a year, finding potential shut down corners has to be a priority and Morris Claiborne is the best defensive prospect in the entire draft.  While there are some concerns surrounding his rumored Wonderlic score of a 4 (8%), I don’t believe that will affect his draft stock.

Claiborne is a quick cornerback with excellent instincts and great ball skills.  As he showed at LSU, he has the skills to be a true shut-down cornerback.  He has the speed and athleticism to be elite in the NFL.   Like his former teammate Patrick Peterson (who went 5th overall to the Cardinals last season) the young cornerback can also be very dangerous in the return game.   If Morris Claiborne is still on the board here, he’s the pick.

Other Possibilities:
1. If Trent Richardson is available here the Buccaneers may go Richardson over Claiborne.

2. The Buccaneers could elect to use the pick to give Josh Freeman another deep threat alongside Vincent Jackson by drafting Justin Blackmon.

PREVIOUS PICK: Justin Blackmon, WR – Oklahoma State

The Rams made a wise move in trading down out of the #2 spot and in the process gave themselves the draft picks necessary to potentially rebuild this once great franchise that has been the joke of the NFL in recent years.  The Rams had a pressing need at wide receiver the past couple of years and with Brandon Lloyd signing with New England, the receiving situation is even more dire.   I believe that with this pick the Rams will select the best wide receiver prospect in the draft in Justin Blackmon.  While this was a pick some thought the Rams might take at the #2 overall position, I don’t believe the Rams are entirely sold on Blackmon but at this point he’s probably the best pick for St. Louis.

The Rams really wanted Julio Jones last season and now with Blackmon they’ll finally give Bradford the big play weapon he needs.   Blackmon is an athletic and speedy receiver who has the ability to make contested catches in the middle of the field but can also stretch defenses vertically.   He was consistent throughout his college career and caught 111 catches for 20 touchdowns and over 1700 yards last year with the Cowboys and did so against double and triple coverage packages.   The Rams haven’t had a #1 wideout since Torry Holt and Blackmon could fill that void for St. Louis.

Other Possibilities:
1. If Trent Richardson or Matt Kalil are available here, that’s the pick for St. Louis.

2. If Morris Claiborne is available here along with Blackmon, the Rams will have a difficult choice to make

3. The Rams could choose to address their defensive line issues here by selecting Fletcher Cox or Dontari Poe or address their offensive line by selecting Riley Reiff

4. The Rams may once again trade down, given all of their needs, with a team interested in Riley Reiff, Justin Blackmon, or Ryan Tannehill.

PREVIOUS PICK: Quinton Coples, DE – North Carolina

When it comes to the NFL Draft, there are trends that can’t be ignored.  One glaring trend as a fan is that it seems like the Jacksonville Jaguars are consistently selecting defensive ends in the top 10.  First it was Derrick Harvey, then it was Tyson Alualu, and now Gene Smith is going to hope that the third time is indeed the charm when he selects South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram.

Melvin Ingram is not the most talented defensive end prospect in this class (that distinction belongs to Quinton Coples) but Ingram is probably the best all-around.  He is a fast and agile defensive end who has a nose for finding the ball.  He is a very mobile defensive end who is extremely effective in open space and could also have success as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.   He isn’t the most explosive defensive end but still would significantly boost the pass rushing efforts of the Jaguars.  One thing that makes Ingram the more desirable defensive end (over Coples) for Jacksonville is there is no doubt about his work ethic – he is pure hustle.  The same cannot be said of Quinton Coples.

Other Possibilities:
1. If Justin Blackmon falls to the Jaguars here, there is no doubt he’s the pick.  The Jaguars may also consider taking Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd here.

2. The Jaguars trade back with a team that is interested in Riley Reiff or Ryan Tannehill

3. The Jaguars select Riley Reiff to shore up their offensive line.

4. Jaguars GM Gene Smith goes against his usual mantra of wanting “safe players” and takes a risk on Quinton Coples

PREVIOUS PICK: Ryan Tannehill, QB – Texas A&M

Don’t get me wrong, I love what I have seen of Ryan Tannehill and believe that he can be a franchise QB and someone that a team builds around.  I am such a big believer in Ryan Tannehill that I believe the Cleveland Browns should pull the trigger and select him in the first round …. with the 22nd overall pick.  He is a young quarterback with a very high ceiling and loads of potential but at the 8th overall pick, I believe he’s a reach.  After last year’s draft though where we saw Cam Newton, Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, and Christian Ponder all off the board by the 12th pick; I am not going to be shocked when Tannehill’s name is called in the top 10.

The Dolphins must address their QB situation and even though Tannehill needs to be developed, he is a quarterback that can make plays with his feet and has an incredibly strong arm.  The downside on Tannehill is that he’s inconsistent and fumbling could be a concern with him.  He also played one full season at quarterback in college.   There’s no question that he’s a talented, intelligent quarterback with a short learning curve and a great grasp on fundamentals with firm mechanics.  And considering that Miami offensive coordinator Mike Sherman was his head coach at A&M last year, his knowledge of the offense definitely helps his draft stock here.

Other Possibilities:
1. The Dolphins address their offensive line issues by selecting Iowa offensive tackle Riley Reiff.

2. The Dolphins fill the void left by the Brandon Marshall trade with the selection of Michael Floyd

3. The Dolphins address their defense by selecting Melvin Ingram/Quinton Coples or Fletcher Cox/Dontari Poe

PREVIOUS PICK: Dontari Poe, NT/DT – Memphis

I don’t think anyone was as impressive at the NFL Combine as Dontari Poe.  Dontari Poe showed up at the NFL Combine at 6’4″, 346 pounds and impressed scouts with an unofficial sub 4.9 40 and 44 reps on the bench press (the most at the combine).  The one negative on Poe is that many are worried because his combine workout does not match his game tape which is why many believe Fletcher Cox out of Mississippi State will be taken ahead of him but I remain confident that Poe is the pick here.

When it comes down to it, I believe the comparisons to Baltimore’s Haloti Ngata are merited.  Poe is a phenomenal athlete that can immediately help to remedy Carolina’s biggest defensive woe – stopping the run.   While he is traditionally a 3-4 nose tackle, Poe is a great athlete and will fit the Panther’s 4-3 scheme nicely.  I believe his measurables and athleticism will be too much for Carolina to pass up.

Other Possibilities:
1. The Panthers go defensive end (Coples or Ingram) as opposed to defensive tackle

2. The Panthers elect to take the top player of their board regardless of position.  That could be Boston College’s Luke Kuechly.  The second best wide receiver (Floyd), cornerback (Gilmore/Kirkpatrick depending on who you ask), and offensive tackle (Reiff) will also all be available here and all represent big needs for the Panthers.

PREVIOUS PICK: Riley Reiff, OT – Iowa

The Bills could go a number of different directions with this pick but they will be thrilled when the second best offensive tackle on the board falls to them at #10 overall.  It has been ten years since the Bills have selected an offensive tackle in the first round but given the fact that they just extended Ryan Fitzpatrick, it’s now essential that they give Fitzpatrick time to throw the ball.

In the tradition of University of Iowa offensive lineman, Reiff is a large tackle (6’5″, 315 lbs.) who plays a hard-nosed style of football.  He is incredibly effective in the run game.  Fundamentally he is a very sound player that is ready to contribute immediately and would fill a huge void in Buffalo’s roster.  Not the sexiest pick but the best pick for Buffalo here.

Other Possibilities:
1. The Bills decide to give Ryan Fitzpatrick a weapon to line up opposite of WR Steve Johnson and select Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd.

2. The Bills continue to bolster the defense by adding either Quinton Coples/Melvin Ingram or with ILB Luke Kuechly

PREVIOUS PICK: Luke Kuechly, ILB – Boston College

If he’s available, Dontari Poe would make the most sense for the Kansas City Chiefs who have a gaping need at the nose tackle position.  However, given GM Scott Pioli’s hesitance towards “unproven players” there’s a chance that if Poe were available, the Chiefs still might pass on him.  However I believe that if Poe is available here, he’s the pick.  Since Dontari Poe is off the board – Luke Kuechly becomes the pick for Kansas City.

The Chiefs are in a unique position where they have a relatively high draft pick but have a pretty complete team with few needs.  Many consider Luke Kuechly to be one of the safest picks in the entire draft.  At 6’3″ and 240 lbs, Kuechly had a great combine workout.  He is a great athlete with excellent instincts and a short learning curve.  He has the ability to read defenses quickly and adapt his style of play accordingly.  He led the nation in tackles the last two years (by a wide margin).  This is a guy who makes plays from sideline to sideline who Chiefs fans will fall in love with.  There is no doubt that he’s the best linebacker in this year’s draft class.   Kuechly’s style of play fits Romeo Crennel’s defense perfectly and would be a perfect complement to Pro Bowler Derrick Johnson.  Kuechly is exactly what Kansas City needs: a run-stopping linebacker who plays aggressively and with great instincts.

Other Possibilities:
1. The Chiefs decide to address their interior offensive line and select Stanford’s David DeCastro

2. Pay attention to trends, the Chiefs could surprise everyone and select LSU defensive lineman Michael Brockers who many consider a better talent and safer pick than Dontari Poe.  The Chiefs have used a first round pick on an LSU player three times since 2007 and Brockers would the be the third LSU defensive lineman (Dorsey and Jackson) that Pioli has selected in the first round since 2008.

3. The Chiefs trade up and draft Ryan Tannehill.PREVIOUS PICK: Luke Kuechly, ILB – Boston College

PREVIOUS PICK: David DeCastro, OG – Stanford

If Luke Kuechly is still on the board, he might be the pick here but I don’t expect him to last this long.  The Seahawks need to address their pass rush and failed to land their biggest free agent target in Mario Williams.  Quinton Coples is the most athletic defensive end/outside linebacker in the draft with the only major concerns being his work ethic and attitude.  At UNC, Coples showed a great ability to defend against the run and find the quarterback.  There are some who believe that Coples’ attitude will have him fall out of the first round but I don’t believe that at all – I believe his athleticism will be too much for the Seahawks to pass up.  He spent a majority of his collegiate career being double blocked and still managed to have success, his performance at the Senior Bowl showed what teams can expect when they make the mistake of single blocking him.  Quinton Coples could be the final piece in a young defense that’s on the rise.

Other Possibilities:
1. The Seahawks may choose to focus on the interior offensive line and select David DeCastro out of Stanford.  Being the franchise that selected Steve Hutchinson, they know the value of a good guard.

2. Select either Stephon Gilmore, Dre Kirkpatrick, or Janorris Jenkins and bolster their secondary

PREVIOUS PICK: Jonathan Martin, OT – Stanford

The popular pick for Arizona seems to be Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd but the $64M they invested in Kevin Kolb last season and the issues on the offensive line have me 100% certain that the Cardinals will be selecting an offensive lineman,  out of Stanford to be more exact.  Given the gaping hole at left tackle I believe they will opt for Jonathan Martin over guard David DeCastro.   Martin is not the talent that Kalil or even Reiff are but he is the consensus third best offensive tackle in the draft and there is a significant drop off in offensive line talent after Martin.

Jonathan Martin is a big, physical, athletic tackle who is a great run blocker and has the tools necessary to be an elite pass protector. He is very adept at setting the edge in screen situations and given the Cardinals two-headed rushing attack of Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams, Martin could be the perfect fit for this Cardinals offense.

Other Possibilities:
1. Draft Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd to take pressure off of Larry Fitzgerald similar to what the Falcons did with the Julio Jones last year.

2. Draft David DeCastro and address the interior offensive line.

3. Address the pass rush with the best available defensive end or outside linebacker

PREVIOUS PICK: Mark Barron, SS – USC

There are a number of ways that the Cowboys could go with this pick but I think at this point the Cowboys go with the best available player that fits a need which makes it a choice between David DeCastro and Mark Barron. I think they choose Barron. Even though they signed Brodney Pool, safety remains an area of need for the Cowboys. Their secondary was awful last season and in a division that includes the matchup nightmares of Cruz and Nicks or Jackson and Maclin, a good safety is essential.  Barron is, without a doubt, the most NFL-ready safety in the draft. Barron is a hard-hitting safety who has a tendency to find himself wherever the ball is on the field. He has the potential to be an impact defensive player and an eventual Pro Bowler for Dallas.

Other Possibilities:
1. Build up their interior offensive line by selecting David DeCastro

2. Address the defensive line by selecting either Fletcher Cox or Michael Brockers

PREVIOUS PICK: Michael Brockers, DT – LSU

If Mark Barron is available here, I believe he’s the pick. Fletcher Cox has been really moving up the draft boards as of late and could go as early as #6 overall to the St. Louis Rams. But if he falls to this point (which I believe he will) then Philadelphia will not hesitate to take him. Fletcher Cox was a disruptive force for the Bulldogs and considered by many to be a pretty safe pick. He is the kind of defensive tackle that can fit almost any role or scheme and selecting him would go a long way toward solving the Eagles’ rush defense woes.

Other Possibilities:
1. TRADE ALERT – Don’t be shocked if the Eagles try and trade up.  Ryan Tannehill, Trent Richardson, Matt Kalil, Riley Reiff, or Melvin Ingram might all be reasons they move up.

2. If Riley Reiff or Jonathan Martin are available the Eagles may try to address their offensive line.

3. They could also address their pass rush with Courtney Upshaw or Chandler Jones.

PREVIOUS PICK: Courtney Upshaw, DE/OLB – Alabama

The New York Jets find themselves in a tough spot because they have a number of glaring needs here but it’s difficult to choose which one to address or which prospect best fits their team. At the end of the day thought, the Jets have trouble getting to the quarterback and when you’re a defensive minded head coach that has to play Tom Brady twice a year, that’s definitely a problem. Originally projected to be a top 10 draft pick, Upshaw is the best choice for the Jets here. He is the highest rated defensive end/outside linebacker prospect on the board at this point. The one drawback on Upshaw is that many consider him a “player without a position”. There are some consider him too small to be an every down defensive end but too large to be an every down outside linebacker. Regardless, he is a great physical talent that could really help Rex Ryan’s pass rush.

Other Possibilities:
1. The Jets could give Mark Sanchez another weapon and select Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd.

2. The Jets address their offensive line and select the best available offensive tackle (Ohio State’s Mike Adams)

3. Trade up to select Melvin Ingram or Quinton Coples

4. Trade back and select the best available player at that point.

PREVIOUS PICK: Michael Floyd, WR – Notre Dame

Every year’s draft has two stories: the reach and the drop.  Well I believe that in spite of the fact that some teams have Michael Floyd as the top receiver on their draft boards he drops to the Bengals here.  It is likely that the Bengals will address their offensive line or secondary with this pick but when Michael Floyd falls, the Bengals will not hesitate to pull the trigger.

The Bengals are a very talented young team but they definitely took a step back last year without A.J. Green on the field.  Michael Floyd is very comparable to Justin Blackmon and most consider him the 2nd best receiver on the board. He has unbelievable hands, good speed, and is an excellent route runner. He is a big target who has the ability to break open the big play. He also has the leaping ability and body control necessary to fight for a ball in the endzone. There may be some hesitance in regards to his alcohol-related problems but the Bengals tend to overlook those things. The rare opportunity to take a quarterback that wasn’t even playing for you and turn him into the best young wide receiver tandem in the league is not one that Mike Brown should pass up.

Other Possibilities:
1. The Bengals could select David DeCastro, the best guard in the draft.  He’s an excellent value here!

2. The Bengals could elect to address their secondary concerns with Janorris Jenkins or Dre Kirkpatrick.

PREVIOUS PICKS: Mike Adams, OT – Ohio State

If I had a big board, David DeCastro would easily fall into my top 10 overall prospects and the San Diego Chargers would be thrilled if he fell all the way to 18 (he could be gone as early as 11). He is by far the best guard prospect we have seen in a long, long time. He is an excellent run blocker who is great at pulling and setting the edge on screen plays. He’s an intelligent player who is pure hustle. He is incredibly athletic and my favorite thing about watching him play for Stanford was that DeCastro tends to knock down the first defender and then lay another block on a linebacker or corner. He plays from whistle to whistle and would greatly satisfy the Chargers need on their interior offensive line. With DeCastro the Chargers could be set at guard for the next decade.

Other Possibilities:

1. The Chargers could address their pass rush with Chandler Jones or Nick Perry

2. Though they have greater needs, the Chargers may draft Kendall Wright to replace Vincent Jackson.

3. The Chargers could reach a little bit and draft the top running back on their board.


PREVIOUS PICK: Cordy Glenn, OG – Georgia

I really thought that Stephon Gilmore would be an early second round pick but in recent weeks, because of his measurables, he has moved ahead of Dre Kirkpatrick and Janorris Jenkins on most boards. I have always been very high on Stephon Gilmore and think he is a very special athlete but at South Carolina he proved inconsistent. I think he is clearly one of the top four cornerbacks in the draft and he might have the highest ceiling of any cornerback available. However, I do believe that his performance will largely be based on the system he’s in and the coaching staff that gets to develop him. I consider Gilmore an elite physical talent with amazing speed and great instincts but he still has much to learn. Regardless he would fit Chicago’s defense well and they need all the secondary help they can get if they hope to take the division from Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford.

Other Possibilities:

1. The Bears address their pass rush with Chandler Jones, Shea McClellin, or Nick Perry

2. They could address their wide receiving corps by selecting Kendall Wright to line up opposite Brandon Marshall.

3. The Bears could also choose to go with Dre Kirkpatrick or Janorris Jenkins over Stephon Gilmore here.

PREVIOUS PICK: Melvin Ingram, DE – South Carolina

The Tennessee Titans have a number of needs but their secondary is a huge concern and the chance to get a cornerback from the top tier of this class is one the Titans should not pass up.  As far as talent goes, Kirkpatrick is the 2nd best cornerback available at this point.  In my opinion, Janorris Jenkins is a much better cover corner and fits Tennessee’s defense better BUT there are the off the field issue concerns with Jenkins and the last thing the Titans want is Pacman Jones: The Sequel.   There are questions surrounding Kirkpatrick as well (marijuana charges that were later dropped) but he is a big physical corner with great leaping ability who has the potential to be a ballhawk for the Titnas.  He is a violent tackler and smart player with great speed that could really help Tennessee on defense.

Other Possibilities:
1. They could select either Mike Adams or Cordy Glenn to shore up their offensive line

2. The team does have a need at inside linebacker and could select Dont’a Hightower out of Alabama.

3. They may consider selecting Baylor’s Kendall Wright or Georgia Tech’s Stephen Hill to give Matt Hasselbeck/Jake Locker a receiving threat opposite of Kenny Britt

PREVIOUS PICK: Janorris Jenkins, CB – North Alabama

In this draft, the Bengals could have opted to select David DeCastro with their 17th overall pick and taken Kendall Wright here.  However when Floyd falls to them they will select the 2nd best wide receiver in the draft and now they get the good fortune to also select the 2nd best guard.   Glenn is a large (6’5”, 345 pounds) guard who is an excellent run blocker.  While he played the tackle position in college, he could be a truly dominant guard in the NFL.  He is incredibly mobile for someone his size, has great strength, and long arms.  He would be the perfect addition to this young Bengals’ offense.

Other Possibilities:
1. The Bengals have huge holes in their secondary and could address it by selecting Janorris Jenkins.  Unlike other teams, the Bengals won’t have the same concerns with his off-field issues.

2. Trade back and use a later pick on either Jenkins, Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith, or a running back.

PREVIOUS PICK: Kendall Wright, WR – Baylor

The Cleveland Browns made a great choice in passing on Justin Blackmon and now at the 22nd overall pick they still land the 3rd best wide receiver in the draft in Kendall Wright.  Wright is an explosive receiver with great speed who can challenge defenses deep down the field but is also the type of player who catch a ball on a slant pattern underneath coverage and gain yards after the catch.  In college, Wright was RG3’s favorite target and had similar production to Justin Blackmon last season.  He played for four years at Baylor, never missing a game and never held to under 2 catches in all four years of play.  This is the perfect pick for Cleveland because all of a sudden if defenses load the box up for Richardson, Wright will make them pay and vice versa.  Mike Holmgren still gets McCoy a deep threat and in true Holmgren fashion, does it without using a top 10 pick on a receiver.

Other Possibilities:
1. The Browns could reach for a quarterback here but I don’t see it, if Ryan Tannehill somehow fell past the Dolphins, Chiefs, Cardinals, and Eagles – he’s the pick here.

2. The Browns could address their offensive line and select Mike Adams.

3. The Browns could opt to address their pass rush with Shea McClellin, Chandler Jones, or Nick Perry

PREVIOUS PICK: Dre Kirkpatrick, CB – Alabama

The Lions have needed to find an heir to Jeff Backus for years and this is the year they finally do that.  Mike Adams is a physical offensive tackle who is very athletic and has great size (6’7”, 320 lbs).   He is an excellent run blocker which should be of great benefit to Leshoure, Best, and Smith.  While Adams is a great run blocker, he still does need to be developed in terms of his pass blocking ability and needs to become better at picking up the speed rush.  However, in a division that includes Jared Allen and Julius Peppers, this is a pick the Lions have to make if they hope to stay on top in the NFC North.

Other Possibilities:
1. The Lions could address their secondary and select either CB Janorris Jenkins or S Harrison Smith

2. The Lions could select Chandler Jones to help with their pass rush

PREVIOUS PICK: Dont’a Hightower, ILB – Alabama

Due to salary cap restrictions, the Steelers had to let James Farrior go.  The Steelers are in desperate need of an inside linebacker who can play right away.  In college, Hightower called the defense for Alabama and had success against top SEC teams as a blitzer.  What he really brings to the game is tackling.  He’s an excellent tackler who plays well against the run.  He is a large, physical linebacker with good speed given his size.  This deadly combination made him a dangerous blitzer for the Crimson Tide and should make him one in the NFL.  He fits the mold of a Dick LeBeau player which makes this a perfect match.

Other Possibilities:
1. The Steelers may address their defensive line and select Michael Brockers

2. The Steelers may address their offensive line and select Bobby Massie

PREVIOUS PICK: Fletcher Cox, DT – Mississippi State

Last season the Broncos surprised everyone by not only winning the AFC West but then by knocking off the defending AFC Champions in the first round of the playoffs.  The Broncos started rebuilding last season by selecting Von Miller 2nd overall.  At times the Broncos D looked elite but overall the front four struggled and had trouble stopping the run.  Michael Brockers is a great athlete with a great ability to penetrate the offensive line.  His ability to break through and force quarterbacks to the edge plays right into the strength of Denver’s defense – Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller.  He’s a big player with long arms and is an absolute monster in the trenches.  Brockers is an excellent fit for Denver’s defense and a great value at 25th overall.

Other Possibilities:
1. The Broncos could grab LaMichael James or Lamar Miller here to help with their run game

2. With Claiborne, Gilmore, and Kirkpatrick off the board; the Broncos may try and trade back in order to grab a quarterback, running back, or wide receiver.

PREVIOUS PICK: Stephen Hill, WR – Georgia Tech

Before the injury to Matt Schaub last season, I thought the Texans were the best team in the AFC.  Even without Schaub the Texans were formidable but when Andre Johnson got hurt was when Houston took a step back.  Houston has two desperate needs – a disruptive nose tackle and a receiving threat to line up opposite Johnson.  26th overall is a little high for a prospect as raw as Hill but with all the potential based on the skills he showed at the combine he has the tools to be an elite receiver in this league.  Hill had an amazing combine showing very reminiscent of two Georgia Tech wideouts who had big playoff performances last season (Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas).  He is a 6’4″ wide receiver who ran a 4.36 40 and has an unbelievably high ceiling.   He has amazing speed, great hands, amazing leaping ability, and unmatched athleticism and body control.   He’s raw but if he develops into the kind of receiver he has the potential to be (an Andre Johnson/Larry Fitzgerald type of threat), this pick will be an absolute steal.

Other Possibilities:
1. If Dontari Poe somehow falls this far, there is no doubt in my mind that he’s the pick. (I don’t see Poe falling past Dallas)

2. The Texans would also consider Hightower, Martin, or Adams if they were available.

PREVIOUS PICK: Whitney Mercilus, DE/OLB – Illinois

The New England Patriots were just a few minutes away from their 4th Super Bowl trophy but in the end, it was their defense who failed them.   The Patriots made it no secret that they were pursuing Mario Williams in free agency – New England has some gaping voids in their secondary and a non-existent pass rush.  The Patriots had trouble putting pressure on Eli Manning and were incapable of covering Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz in the Super Bowl.   Chandler Jones is the perfect pick for Bellichick and a great value at #27 overall.   Chandler Jones is a great talent who has the athleticism to also be moved to the OLB position in a 3-4 defense.  He could be the perfect start to the rebuilding process for the Patriots’ defense.

Other Possibilities:
1. The Patriots could choose to address their offensive line and select Wisconsin center Peter Konz

2. If the Patriots are not concerned about Janorris Jenkins’ off the field issues, they could address their secondary here.

PREVIOUS PICK: Lavonte David, OLB – Nebraska

Last season, Green Bay’s defense was absolutely awful and posted the worst sack rate in the NFL.  An inability to create pressure and sack opposing quarterbacks is the main reason Green Bay was sent packing  three weeks earlier than most expected.  While their very explosive offense overshadowed their defensive woes, they need some help creating pressure.  There is some debate about who the Packers will select with this pick but there’s no doubt in my mind it will be a defensive end or outside linebacker.

I originally had Shea McClellin going to the Packers… in the second round.  In the last few weeks though he has surged up draft boards.  The Packers are apparently in love with this kid and if they want him, they are going to have to take him here (if he’s still available).   It’s easy to see why they like him so much.   He’s a defensive player that can tackle well in the open field.  He has excellent instincts that allows him to recognize plays and adapt accordingly.  His unusual combination of size, strength, and speed make him a natural pass rusher.  He’s a very disciplined, hard nosed player with great work ethic that fits the personality of the Packers perfectly.  Ted Thompson is going to be extremely pleased to get his man at #28 overall.

Other Possibilities:
1. They could opt to draft Andre Branch, Whitney Mercilus, or Lavonte David instead

PREVIOUS PICK: Peter Konz, C – Wisconsin

If Dont’a Hightower falls to the Ravens here, there’s not a doubt in my mind that he’s the pick.  But he’s not so let’s move on.  In spite of the fact that the Ravens just re-signed All-Pro center Matt Birk to a 3 year contract, I am fairly certain this will be his last year in the NFL.  The Ravens must find an heir to Matt Birk and Konz is by far the best center in the draft.   Peter Konz is a strong, athletic, intelligent center that could be the cornerstone of any NFL offensive line for the next 10 years.  The beauty of drafting him now is that he has a year to learn from one of the best centers the NFL has ever seen.  And since Konz is ready to play now, the Ravens could use him immediately to fill the void at the offensive guard position while they wait for Matt Birk to retire.

Other Possibilities:
1. They could select Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith as replacing Ed Reed should also be a priority

2. They could select Rueben Randle or Alshon Jeffrey – whichever receiver is higher on their board

3. They may also trade up for Hightower or Hill or trade back to find better value.  The Ravens have been pretty consistent at finding great value in the draft and it’s very rare that they reach for players on the first day.

PREVIOUS PICK: Rueben Randle, WR – LSU

Even with the additions of Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, the 49ers receiving corps still needs some help.  The 49ers came within two muffed punts of making the Super Bowl last year and they did so with a receiving corps that did not catch a pass before the 4th quarter.  San Francisco lacked any ability to convert on 3rd down and relied heavily on tight ends Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker to provide any kind of pass offense.  With no nose tackles on the board worthy of this pick, San Francisco will take the top receiver on the board which will likely be Rueben Randle.  Randle is a large, physical redzone threat that could be a boost to the 49ers passing attack.

Other Possibilities:
1. I really believe the 49ers will try and trade back and then select either the best available nose tackle or wide receiver at that point.

2. They could continue to work on defense and take the top defensive player on their board

PREVIOUS PICK: Harrison Smith, SS – Notre Dame

TRADE ALERT! I fully expect the New England Patriots to trade out of this pick.  There are about three or four teams I could speculate on that may want to move here but I would be shocked if the Patriots actually make both of their first round selections.   If the Patriots do pick here though, they’re going to continue to address defense and I believe that Harrison Smith is the pick.  The safety out of Notre Dame is the second best safety in the draft and after Smith there is a significant drop off at the position.  Smith is a safety with incredible instincts, top-end speed, and great ball skills.   He is a physical, aggressive player who can close running lanes quickly and can compete with receivers for jump balls.  His personality and playing style are exactly what Bill Bellichick looks for on defense.

Other Possibilities:
1. They really need help on the defensive line and could select UConn’s Kendall Reyes here
2. Once again, if they are sold on Janorris Jenkins, he could be the pick here
3. Most likely the Patriots will trade back into the top half of the 2nd round and gain additional draft picks.

PREVIOUS PICK: Coby Fleener, TE – Stanford

The Super Bowl Champs do have some needs and if Peter Konz is available he fills one of their biggest needs.   But the Giants are really in a position where they should just be drafting the best player available and at the 32nd overall pick, Coby Fleener is an absolute steal.  He is one of the best players in the draft.  He has great size, absolutely blazing speed, is a terrific route runner, and could be deadly in the red zone.  He has amazing hands and great awareness and body control.  He has Rob Gronkowski type potential.   If you really want to know how good Coby Fleener is, just think about this – at Stanford’s Pro Day (which featured Andrew Luck, David DeCastro, and Jonathan Martin among others) it was Fleener who stole the show and was the talk of the Pro Day.  The Giants need some tight end help and while Fleener’s stock has been helped by players like Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham, there is no doubt he’s the right pick for the Giants.

Other Possibilities:
1. The Giants could address their offensive line and select OT Bobby Massie

2. They could address their pass rush and take Andre Branch or Whitney Mercilus here

3. They may select a running back with this pick

4. Once again, this is another team that could trade back if another team is looking to move up

Questions? Comments? Snide Remarks?
Let me hear ‘em!!

And as always, please follow me on Twitter @can_of_corn




2 responses to “2012 NFL Final Mock Draft – Round 1

  1. I think poe isn’t that impressive. Yeah he can perform well in shorts, but when he played in college he was lazy on the field and very unimpressive in a bad college conference

    • His combine workout was unbelievable but I agree that he’s a risky pick. He has drawn comparisons to Haloti Ngata and blew GMs and Coaches away in Indy BUT for as impressive as he is, I would rather my team select Cox, unless you’re looking for a nose tackle, then Poe is the guy you want but you’re right – it’s definitely a risk.

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